Whatever challenges we all face, life is a gift that we can celebrate with wonderful story.
My brilliant friend, multi award winning children’s author Sally Fussell is an inspiration to writers, young people and families. Her new book, ‘Sad the dog’ offers comfort and ultimately joy, to kids and families as she Writes Through the Tough Stuff.
Here’s what Sandy says about her new picture book:-
I’ve heard it said many times, that a true writer never gives up. No matter how hard it is, they persevere and push through. They keep going.
I’m a true writer – heart and soul – I’ve never doubted that, but not so long ago I almost gave up. The release of Sad, the Dog is my phoenix moment and if I can be indulged a metaphor, I feel reborn from the ashes of the last five years of my life.
In days long gone now, I used to describe myself as the Cinderella author, convinced someone had waved a magic wand over me. My first two books won major awards. I had a steady stream of festival invitations. I could easily write two books a year and Walker Books Australia kept publishing them.
My bio contained a line saying my greatest fear was I would turn back into a pumpkin in the middle of a school visit. Prophetic words. The pumpkin years came although not in any way I could’ve imagined.
In 2010 I contracted bacterial meningitis. The life-threatening one. I survived to spiral into four months of unexplained fatigue, barely able to lift a pencil, and eventually diagnosed as orthostatic hypertension. I was luckier than the Yellow Wiggle. I recovered and kept writing. I had a series to spin.
Except my life collapsed again. #2 son developed nausea, ultimately every waking hour – followed by abdominal pain and a raft of unexplained symptoms. After four struggling years, I decided to end the Samurai Kids series with book 8. I couldn’t find the time to write another one. But I kept writing something. A little less. A little later at night.
A small window of blue sky opened and my son found some relief with a special diet. Just in time for me to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the rare, nasty Hurthle cell kind. On the plus side I had three days of isolation while I was radioactive – the closest I’ll ever get to a writing retreat. I picked up an old manuscript and kept writing.
I survived again as my son’s diet failed spectacularly and the fifth year ended with three months of constant nausea and pain for him. Finally, a Christmas neuropathic medication miracle occurred. But there were ongoing complications and home schooling began. I kept writing. A lot less. A lot later at night.
Eventually the manuscript was finished. It was terrible, twice over. It was two terrible stories wrapped around each other. I panicked, and for the first time, I thought of giving up. I had tried so hard – and failed. But I’m a true writer – I pushed through until I had three good chapters of something new, proving to myself I could still write.
Through all those times, the worst of which are thankfully over, Sad, The Dog inched along. An email from my wonderful ever-encouraging editor, here. A changed line, there. A new page spread. Finally, the first glimpse of Sad’s cheeky face.
Sad the Dog is a story full of hope – for friendship and family – as Sad stops being Sad and becomes Lucky. It’s symbolic for me. My friends stood by me, my family pulled through the pumpkin years and I’ve been twice lucky.
A touching look into the life of an unloved pet and the heart-warming journey towards finding your true home.
Sad, The Dog – Tour Schedule
Thursday 1st October, Kids’ Book Review
Friday 2nd October, Kirsty Eager’s Blog
Saturday 3rd October, Writing for Children
Sunday 4th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog
Monday 5th October, Susanne Gervay’s Blog
Tuesday 6th October, Boomerang Books Blog
Wednesday 7th October, The Book Chook
Thursday 8th October, Creative Kids Tales
Friday 9th October, DeeScribe Writing Blog
Saturday 10th October, Reading Upside Down
Sunday 11th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog